Dr. Bart D. Ehrman Telling Us Jesus Was Left on the Cross to Be Eaten by Dogs and Vultures (and other birds that eat the dead). Is he correct?

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    Oct 08, 2016 2:49 PM GMT
    Jon

    I would appreciate any light anyone can shed on this topic.

    One proposal of Dr. Ehrman’s is that the Romans left Jesus’ body on the cross while Jesus’ disciples fled to Galilee, then Peter had a hallucination of Jesus on the the third day after Jesus’ death, and this led to the belief that Jesus was raised on the third day (1 Corinthians 15:4). If so, why didn’t Jesus’ followers conclude that Jesus was raised right off the cross; why would they instead conclude that Jesus was buried within only two days after his death (“buried” then raised in 1 Corinthians 15:4)?

    Dr. Ehrman’s theory seems to require that Jesus’ followers were so ignorant of Roman crucifixion practices that they thought the Romans would have removed Jesus’ body from the cross and buried it after only 48 hours of being on the cross. Does anyone else here find it hard to believe that all of Jesus’ initial followers (Peter and those who initially concluded that Jesus was buried and then raised on the third day) could be that ignorant of Roman crucifixion practices? Actually, it seems to require that Jesus’ followers not just be ignorant of Roman crucifixion practices, but that they actually picked up somewhere the wrong idea that the Romans would have buried the body within 48 hours of Jesus’ death and that they firmly believed that must have been the case with Jesus without even seeing it happen. And then on top of this, none of the hundreds (or thousands?) of fellow Galileans who must have left Jerusalem after the Sabbath (on Sunday, Monday, Tuesday, etc), told Peter and his followers in Galilee that they saw Jesus still hanging on the cross outside the main gates of Jerusalem when they left.

    Does anyone here have a plausible explanation for this?



    Yes, 1 Corinthians 15:4 was written by Paul 20 years after Jesus’ death, but almost everyone, including Dr. Ehrman, identifies this verse as part of a pre-Pauline tradition: “This passage almost certainly contains a pre-Pauline confession, or creed, of some kind….It might go all the way back to the Aramaic-speaking followers of Jesus in Palestine during the early years after his death” (How Jesus Became God, pg. 139 and 140). So “he was buried [and] …he was raised on the third day” (1 Cor 15:4) appears to be part of the Christian repertoire within only a few year of Jesus’ death.

    I thought I had seen Dr. Ehrman say somewhere that Peter had a hallucination of Jesus on the third day after Jesus’ death, and this led to the belief that Jesus was raised on the third day (i.e. literally on the third day), but this appears not to be in his book How Jesus Became God. There he says as you do that the first vision might not have come for a week or two, or even a month after Jesus’ death, and that the third day belief was initially understood theologically not historically (pg. 175). However, in an endnote for that same section he says, “I am not disputing that Paul and others thought that Jesus was raised on the third day” (endnote #2 for Chapter 5). So Dr. Ehrman seems to think that the third day was at some point literalized and understood to mean that Jesus was raised on the actual third day after his death (i.e. Sunday), and that this literalization occurred before the discovered empty tomb tradition came about (because Paul did not know about that, according to Dr. Ehrman).

    However, even when I consider the scenario above, I am still having problems with Dr. Ehrman’s theory that Jesus was left on the cross. Let’s say the first vision came a week after Jesus’ death and the third day belief came about shortly after that and was just thought of theologically with no chronological meaning. Why then would Jesus’ followers assume that Jesus had been “buried” before he was raised instead of just assuming Jesus was raised right off the cross? Wouldn’t Jesus’ followers have known that the Romans would leave the body on the cross for more than a week (I am assuming here that that is what the Romans would have done)?

    Two weeks before the first vision makes things a little easier to deal with, but still seems to suffer from the same problem as above because I would bet that the Romans left bodies on crosses even longer than two weeks.

    If the first vision came a month or more after Jesus’ death, I can then see how Jesus’ followers might think he was buried before being raised, but then why would the theological third-day belief ever get literalized into an actual third day if everyone knew that there is no way the Romans would have buried Jesus within only two days after Jesus’ death?

    So even in the best scenario just mentioned, Dr. Ehrman’s theory seems to require that Jesus’ followers were so ignorant of Roman crucifixion practices that they thought the Romans would have removed Jesus’ body from the cross and buried it after only 48 hours of being on the cross. Does anyone else here think this sounds far-fetched? And if the earliest Christians understood the third-day literally from the very beginning (i.e. Sunday), the problem becomes even more severe. Dr. Ehrman seems to acknowledge this possibility: “The idea that Jesus was raised on the third day is not necessarily a historical recollection of when the resurrection happened, but a theological claim of its significance (How Jesus Became God, pg. 140)
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    Oct 08, 2016 2:51 PM GMT
    Stephenoabc/Steefen

    Jesus was not left on the cross.
    The Biblical Jesus is a composite character of historical fiction. During the Jewish Revolt, Josephus saw three crosses with men on them. With permission from the Roman general, they were taken down. This historical fact flows into the historical fiction. Josephus took “Jesus” down from the cross and Matthew, Luke, and John were written after this happened. Many say Mark was written before AD 70 but one cannot say Paul was reading Mark; one cannot say Mark was closed to editorial changes after AD 70.

    So, the Josephus of Testimonium Flavianum gave us his real life inspiration for the way the historical fiction of Jesus was written.



    Second, one must look at the historical fiction of the Bible for further clues that Jesus’ crucifixion was mitigated. Let’s look at “crucifixion” in the Jewish Encyclopedia.

    The details given in the New Testament accounts (Matt. xxvii. and parallels) of the crucifixion of Jesus agree on the whole with the procedure in vogue under Roman law. Two modifications are worthy of note: (1) In order to make him insensible to pain, a drink (ὁξος, Matt. xxvii. 34, 48; John xix. 29) was given him. This was in accordance with the humane Jewish provision (see Maimonides, “Yad,” Sanh. xiii. 2; Sanh. 43a). The beverage was a mixture of myrrh (V04p373004.jpg) and wine, given “so that the delinquent might lose clear consciousness through the ensuing intoxication.” (2) Contrary to the Roman practice of leaving the body on the cross, that of Jesus was removed and buried, the latter act in keeping with Jewish law and custom. These exceptions, however, exhaust the incidents in the crucifixion of Jesus that might point to a participation therein, and a regulation thereof, by Jews or Jewish law. The mode and manner of Jesus’ death undoubtedly point to Roman customs and laws as the directive power.

    So, the Great Jewish Teacher was shown merciful mitigation for his punishment. The latter, “keeping with Jewish law and custom” lets us know the nature of Jesus’ help was Jewish, just as history had a Jewish Josephus helping one of the composite characters that went into the historical fictional character, Jesus.

    There was a Jesus of Galilee with a band of Mariners who were killed in a battle with Rome on the Sea of Galilee. They did begin to decompose, contributing to the stench of that battle’s aftermath.

    I have come across some who would include Judas the Galilean and maybe his sons as members of the composite Jesus. If so, the Jewish Encyclopedia supports Dr. Ehrman:

    During the times of unrest which preceded the rise in open rebellion against Rome (about 30-66 B.C.), “rebels” met with short shrift at the hands of the oppressor. They were crucified as traitors. The sons of Judas the Galilean were among those who suffered this fate.
    The sons of Judas the Galilean, who had led a revolt in 6 C.E. over the Roman taxation census, were crucified by the Roman procurator Tiberius Alexander (46-48 C.E.), who was the nephew of the philosopher Philo. 2.
    The Jewish Roman World of Jesus | Josephus’ References to Crucifixion
    https://clas-pages.uncc.edu/james-tabor/…and-the…/josephus-references-to-crucifixion/

    While the father, Judas the Galilean led a revolt in 6 C.E., his sons were Galilean contemporaries of Jesus. They were crucified and must be members of the composite Jesus.
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    Oct 08, 2016 2:52 PM GMT

    Antiquities 20: Chapter 5

    The sons of Judas the Galilean, who had led a revolt in 6 C.E. over the Roman taxation census, were crucified by the Roman procurator Tiberius Alexander (46-48 C.E.), who was the nephew of the philosopher Philo.

    2. Then came Tiberius Alexander as successor to Fadus; he was the son of Alexander the alabarch of Alexandria, which Alexander was a principal person among all his contemporaries, both for his family and wealth: he was also more eminent for his piety than this his son Alexander, for he did not continue in the religion of his country. Under these procurators that great famine happened in Judea, in which queen Helena bought corn in Egypt at a great expense, and distributed it to those that were in want, as I have related already. And besides this, the sons of Judas of Galilee were now slain; I mean of that Judas who caused the people to revolt, when Cyrenius came to take an account of the estates of the Jews, as we have showed in a foregoing book. The names of those sons were James and Simon, whom Alexander commanded to be crucified. But now Herod, king of Chalcis, removed Joseph, the son of Camydus, from the high priesthood, and made Ananias, the son of Nebedeu, his successor. And now it was that Cumanus came as successor to Tiberius Alexander; as also that Herod, brother of Agrippa the great king, departed this life, in the eighth year of the reign of Claudius Caesar. He left behind him three sons; Aristobulus, whom he had by his first wife, with Bernicianus, and Hyrcanus, both whom he had by Bernice his brother’s daughter. But Claudius Caesar bestowed his dominions on Agrippa, junior.
    Jewish War 4: Chapter 5

    Josephus reports on the Jewish custom of taking down the bodies of those crucified by the Romans during the Great Revolt and burying them, if permitted, before sundown. This was in response to the Torah Mitzvah found in Deuteronomy 21:22-23: “When someone is convictged of a crime punishable by death and is executed, and yo9u hang him on a tree, his corpse must not remain all night upon the tree; you shall bury him that same day, for anyone hung on a tree is under God’s curse.”

    2. But the rage of the Idumeans was not satiated by these slaughters; but they now betook themselves to the city, and plundered every house, and slew every one they met; and for the other multitude, they esteemed it needless to go on with killing them, but they sought for the high priests, and the generality went with the greatest zeal against them; and as soon as they caught them they slew them, and then standing upon their dead bodies, in way of jest, upbraided Ananus with his kindness to the people, and Jesus with his speech made to them from the wall. Nay, they proceeded to that degree of impiety, as to cast away their dead bodies without burial, although the Jews used to take so much care of the burial of men, that they took down those that were condemned and crucified, and buried them before the going down of the sun.

    The last sentence in the quote above (highlighted in bold) shows that crucified Jews were not always left to be eaten by dogs and birds. Was this the case with the sons of Judas the Galilean?